The Myth of the Scottish Picnic
DISCOVERY PROCEEDS FROM research, folks. Research and happenstance. And cool packaging. I discovered Hendrick's Gin, which hails from Scotland, land of my forebears, a few weeks ago while on a routine trip to Zipp's Liquors on Franklin Ave. in Minneapolis. Incidentally, Zipp's has recently become my liquor store of choice, not least because of its presence on my homebound route from work, but also in large part because of their phenomenal selection, resident weiner dog and, now, their boldly-colored website.
So Hendrick's is a gin which is infused with two things: cucumber and rose petals. Now, I like gin. I'm with Oscar B. Goodman, the mayor of Las Vegas. Max recommended drinking Hendrick's with soda and a slice of cucumber which makes fantastic good sense. I don't keep cucumbers on hand, though. Sorry, I just don't roll that way. So I made a standard martini (and I, unlike Mayor Goodman, like a dash of dry vermouth in mine) with Hendrick's and found the cucumber and rose notes added a nice complexity to the usual juniper flavor, even with olives.
So then last night I went to the 331 Club for Chuck and Sean's Trivia after I got done with Homegrown for the night, and my good buddy Rob Skoro was tending bar. Now I like Skoro because he's an adventurous drinkmaker. This is the man who introduced me to Diet Coke and red wine on the rocks, aka ghetto sangria. Which is surprisingly delicious on a hot night. But this was a cold night, and I saw they had Hendrick's and so asked if they had cucumbers. They didn't (hey, neither do I), but Rob said he could make me a "Scottish Picnic," which he said is Hendrick's and soda and a pickle for garnish. I'm crazy and down-for-whatever so I got one. And it was pretty great. Pickles qua garnish opens up a whole new range of possible decorations for drinks. The mind reels when you think of the possibilities when it comes to different kinds of pickles. I'm a firm believer that good ingredients can almost always improve a drink, especially if it seems weird. Cheap-ass gin and soda plus a crappy deli pickle? No thanks. But Hendrick's, soda and one of these bad boys? Serve it up. I plan on researching this. I'm eyeing the Hot Kosher Spears for possible inclusion in a Hendrick's-based drink in the near future.
The bad news? This drink is demonstrably NOT called a Scottish Picnic. Webtender doesn't kow about it, Extra Tasty doesn't know about it. And a web search for the term turns up zilch in the way of drink references. I say we call it "Pickle Wing." Since it's Hendrick's and gin. Or "Manic Depress-gin." "Spanish Pickle Magic?" (McPHERSON)